The carcass of one more female wild elephant was found in the jungles of Rajpur in Balrampur district of Surguja on Thursday morning taking the toll to three in the last three days.
Two female wild elephants were found dead in the jungles of Pratapur forest range of Surajpur on Tuesday and Wednesday. Officials believe that all the three female elephants were from the same herd.
"The body has been found in Rajpur forest range of Balrampur district on Thursday morning. We are yet to conduct the third post-mortem, however, the postmortem of the two other elephants have been conducted and prima facie doctors told us that the death was due to toxicity" said Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) Arun Kumar Pandey talking to Hindustan Times adding that complete reports are awaited.
"All three were young animals and they could not die like this at this age hence we suspect that these are not natural deaths," said Pandey adding that no injury mark was found on the elephants.
Meanwhile, forest officials have also collected samples from nearby ponds and water bodies to check if it was poisoned. "We don't think that they have been poisoned through water bodies because then many deaths of wild animals would have taken place," said Pandey.
Two carcasses of elephants were found in separate places of Pratapur forest range of the district on Wednesday and Tuesday and the post-mortem report of both the elephants is still pending.
A herd of some 18 elephants had ransacked some mud houses in Karwa village before moving toward Pratapur on June 6-7.
"As per preliminary information, this herd was coming from Rajpur and then moved towards Pratapur. Near Rajpur they entered a village where they destroyed some mud houses. We are also investigating the villages which the herd crossed to ascertain what they have eaten," a senior official said.
Earlier, the forest department told HT that it seems that the pregnant elephant died due to cardiovascular failure and some cysts were also found in her body. However, the exact cause of death will come out after the post-mortem report, which will arrive on Thursday.
Forest officials believe the dead jumbos belonged to the herd of elephants roaming in the area since the last one month.
North Chhattisgarh is home to around 240 wild elephants, which roam in the coal rich forest lands in Surguja region of the state. Several reports of human-elephant conflicts have surfaced in last few years in the region.
Amalendu Mishra, member of the State Wildlife Advisory Board, who tracks elephant movement in Surguja region said, "In this region there are about 90 out the total 240 wild elephants in Chhattisgarh. There is much need of training and capacity building of forest department's ground staff for the management of wild elephants."
According to Mishra, for tracking the live movement of elephants, the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) was radio collaring the pachyderms. However, currently only 3 out of 240 wild elephants have been radio collared.
He further says when it comes to wild elephant deaths in Surguja region the deaths are mostly due to random reasons. For example, people lay live wires in jungles for trapping wild boars or for saving crops and elephants get electrocuted.
"Though there has been a slow increase in the numbers of wild elephants in Chhattisgarh, but as compared to a state like Karnataka it is still very less. Karnataka has about 6,000 elephants while in Chhattisgarh it is around 230-240 only," he said.
As per Chhattisgarh's forest department figures, during the financial year 2018-19, a total of 56 people were killed by wild elephants in northern Chhattisgarh. In 2017-18, 74 people died due to elephant attacks in the state.
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